FORT SMITH, Ark. (CelebrityAccess) — Travis McCready, the frontman of the country-rock band Bishop Gunn, took the stage at TempleLive in Fort Smith on Monday night in what might be one of the first concerts to take place in the era of social distancing.
The concert which was initially scheduled for two days before Arkansas officially reopened indoor venues, led to a dispute between the venue and the state that led to a temporary suspension of the venue’s liquor license and prompting a rescheduling of the show for Monday.
In what seemed like a dress rehearsal for the return of live events for the industry as a whole, precautions were in place for the show at TempleLive.
Attendance at the 1,100 capacity venue was limited to about 50 fans and Tickets to the show were sold in blocks, creating ‘fan pods’ that could sit together in widely spaced rows for the show. Even with the limited capacity, the show didn’t quite sell out, according to the New York Times.
As well, venue staff checked everyone’s temperature at the door and everyone who attended the show were required to wear masks for the duration of the event.
Other safety measures including limiting the number of patrons in the venue’s bathrooms at any one time.
All food and drinks were pre-packaged, or came with lids and bar tending duties were broken up with one bartender taking money and a second dispensing drinks.
“The fundamental question of this whole experiment is how to address safety and how to address the economics,” ance Beatty, president of the venue owner Beatty Capital Group told Rolling Stone. “What’s the impact on food and beverage? What’s the impact on the fan experience? That’s what everyone is sitting around, pulling the levers, trying to figure out. We’re charting new territory here.”
Despite the precautions and the apparent strangeness of attending a concert with less than 5% of the venue’s capacity in use, fans seemed grateful for the experience.
Daniel Neathery, who had to buy an entire fan pod of tickets at $20 dollars a piece to attend the show alone, said the experience overall was good.
“For me it was worth it to have some normalcy,” he told the New York Times.